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Author Topic: Legend of Tarzan  (Read 218 times)

Offline BentonGrey

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Legend of Tarzan
« on: July 10, 2016, 10:20:53 PM »
Howdy guys, anyone seen this movie?  As most folks probably know, I'm a huge fan of the classic pulp heroes, so I approached this new film with mixed feelings of interest and trepidation.  In general, attempts to update and recreate these characters in the modern day have proven to be a mixed, mostly bad, bag.  I'm looking at you, Green Hornet.  Anyway, I've read a bunch of the Tarzan novels, and I loved the classic movies when I was a kid, so I've got a lot of affection for the character.  I really thought this movie looked too overdone and overblown, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  I'll post more later if folks are interested, but this film is a solid B-/C+.  It isn't great, but it says more than your average blockbuster, it doesn't have any glaring plotholes (which is, shamefully, a rarity for big movies these days), and the fellow playing Tarzan does a solid job. 

It looks fantastic, and Samuel L. Jackson steals every single scene he's in.  He's definitely one of the best bits of the movie.  It tells a surprisingly straightforward Tarzan story, capturing a lot of the themes of the books, and the villain has just enough personality to be somewhat interesting.  The choice of villains, the Belgians at the end of the 19th Century in the Congo, is rather perfect.  They actually figure obliquely in the books, and you'd be hard pressed to find better historical villains in that era without going forward to the Nazis.  The movie does get over the top at times, and there is one scene in particular, the train scene, where the laws of physics seem to be completely suspended.  Still, it actually isn't as bad as I thought it would be. 

They capture Tarzan's quiet, forceful presence pretty well, but on the downside, they mess with a central tenant of the character.  Tarzan is always, at his core, a beast.  He is an ape more than he is a man, and he wears the veneer of civilization only for the sake of Jane.  The movie captures how the wildness inside of him was only thinly buried, but they make a big thing of his struggle to be civilized and leave his jungle behind him.  That's pretty much the opposite of the character, and it bothered me rather a good deal.

On the plus side, there is something quite fitting in the tone of the movie in regards to race and imperialism.  The original books are problematic in terms of race at times (they were written in the very early 20th Century, after all), but at the same time, there is always something about them that resists the standard narratives of the day of the 'natural superiority of whites' and the like.  In Tarzan books, the natives are generally honorable, compassionate, loyal, and virtuous.  It's almost always the folks from the so-called  'civilized countries' that are the villains.  They are the folks who are greedy, corrupt, and vicious.  That's one of the constant themes of Burrough's works.  The natural world and those closest to it may be hard, may even be violent, but it is an honest, straightforward type of violence.  It takes civilization to really create evil.  It's the noble savage archetype writ large.

Well, interestingly enough, this movie taps into those themes, and it makes Tarzan a surprisingly apt figure for the modern world, and one who translates better than I expected into today's climate.

So, in the end, this is a fun, entertaining movie.  It starts to rise above its blockbuster aims at a few moments, but those higher aspirations are almost always abandoned too quickly.  With another edit, this could go from a solid film to a good film.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2016, 10:22:37 PM by BentonGrey »
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Offline HarryTrotter

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Re: Legend of Tarzan
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2017, 05:07:24 PM »
I got around to watching it and it was a good action adventure movie.
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Offline GhostMachine

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Re: Legend of Tarzan
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2017, 03:13:40 AM »
It's good. My one gripe is the Tarzan yell. They chose not to use the classic yell that's been used in countless films and instead came up with a new one. It just seems out of place and doesn't sound right.


Offline HarryTrotter

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Re: Legend of Tarzan
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2017, 04:50:50 AM »
Oddly enough,the movie adresses that.
-Thats Tarzan.
-Not quite what I expected.
''Even our origin stories have gone sour.''
Jon Farmer